Joining what now seems to be a mass exodus of established talent from the “big two,” Ed Brubaker has announced that he’s finishing up his long-and-legendary run on Captain America to focus on creator-owned projects like Fatale and Criminal. Unlike many of the folks who fled DC over the Watchmen kerfuffle, Brubaker just says he’s burned out on the superstuff and wants to work on other things for a while. During his run, Brubaker killed and revived Steve Rogers, turned Bucky from Winter Soldier to Captain America and then back to a covert operative, breathed new life into both Falcon and Black Widow, and brought an “espionage” tone and flavor that had never been explored before in the pages of Captain America. But I agree he’s burned out. Over the last year or so, his stories have become a little redundant. So, it’ll be good to see him go and preserve a legacy of one of the best long-term runs on any Marvel character, ever. The book will be taken over by Cullen “The Sixth Gun” Bunn on issue #20.
In what is probably a bigger blow, the extraordinary artist Paolo Rivera has also parted ways with Marvel—following an exclusive contract that had lasted over a decade. Most recently, Paolo drew heaps of accolades based on his work on Daredevil (he’s been replaced by the good-but-not-as-good Chris Samnee). (He will continue to work with Marvel on a non-exclusive work-for-hire basis.) Paolo, like Ed, will try to make his way with creator-owned group. In his public statement, Rivera indicated that he needs to create some art that can help pay for his old age. In other words: Marvel, if you would provide a 401K or a retirement package for your contract creators, you could probably hold on to them a little longer.
Oh, and can we get a Brubaker-Rivera comic? Please!?!
In tribute to them, two of my favorite current Marvel creators, here’s a little “top 10” list:
THE TOP 5 ED BRUBAKER AND THE TOP 5 PAOLO RIVERA MARVEL COMICS
10. Amazing Spider-Man #592 (variant cover only). Paolo Rivera delivers a piece of true abstract art for the cover of this issue, which teamed Spider-Man and Wolverine. Brilliant, beautiful, and museum quality.
9. Incognito 1-6 (Icon). Brubaker’s best work is in the noir category, and here he asks a question I’m shocked nobody thought of before: What if a super-villain went into witness protection?
8. Mythos 1-6. Paolo Rivera painted the interiors for this series, which reimagined several main Marvel characters’ origins. This allowed Rivera to illustrate all your favorites…I’m not usually a fan of painted comics, but this one won me over.
7. Daredevil vol. 2 #82-119. Brian Michael Bendis handed a totally fu(k#d Daredevil to Brubaker. Murdock was exposed, in jail, and completely defeated. So Brubaker began his tale by focusing on Foggy Nelson, who had to flee all of DD’s enemies, now gunning for his allies. He also managed to work in one of his greatest gifts to Marvel: Iron Fist. I won’t reveal the big reveal, but trust me: This is one of the best Daredevil arcs of all time.
6. Marvel Mystery Comics 70th Anniversary Special #1 (Cover only). Completely retro, capturing the mood of the classic Marvel Mystery Comics without appearing clunky or outdated. Wonderful cover.
5. Captain America vol. 5 #1-50. From the very first issue, Ed Brubaker dropped hints about what was going to happen to Steve Rogers. If you go back and read it again, knowing that Cap would die, you’ll see it. Wonderfully intricate, decompressed spy stories mixed with some great, shield-slingin’ superheroics.
4. The Amazing Spider-Man #577. Written by the great Zeb Wells, Paolo gets to draw a Spidey-Punisher “team up.” Great, great stuff—very kinetic.
3. Criminal (Icon). It’s hard to pick any particular volume here…I loved ‘em all. See my top picks on this post.
2. Daredevil vol. 3, issues 1-3, 7, and 9-10. With Mark Waid. Simply the best book currently on the market. Rivera will be missed.
1. The Immortal Iron Fist vol. 2 1-14. With Matt Fraction and David Aja, Ed Brubaker takes a character who was always pretty one-dimensional and turns him into a future member of The Avengers. Along the way, he creates an entire legend of the Iron Fist that is layered, complex, and completely true to the “original” origins of the character.